Tag Archives: manuscripts

An American at an 1820 German Christmas

The trappings of an American Christmas have become as familiar as one’s own family—lights and trees, Santa Claus and reindeer, food and good cheer. That hasn’t always been the case, of course. The Puritans, for one, simply banned Christmas in the New World. Stemming from pagan celebrations of the harvest and the winter solstice, the ...

Identifying the Unidentified

Kathleen Major has been volunteering in the Manuscripts Department at AAS for several years. She worked at AAS from 1976 to 1984 and was Keeper of Manuscripts for a portion of that time. After leaving the Society to care for her children, Kathy worked at the Gale Free Library in Holden, most recently as head of ...

The Acquisitions Table: Friendship Album, 1842-1846

Esther Blackmer, Friendship Album, 1842-1846 This album looks similar to other albums from the period, with its hand-colored lithographs and manuscript poetry. The album’s  owner, unlike the many students who kept friendship albums, was a chambermaid at the State Lunatic Hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts. The hospital's trustees’ report indicates that Esther Blackmer’s compensation was board plus ...

Calling Sherlock Holmes…

My latest volunteer project, to quote Winston Churchill, was “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma." I was handed twenty-eight legal depositions, tucked in a manila folder, with a notation that simply said: “The depositions were part of a suit by multiple claimants for the $500 reward.” First, the riddle:  Who offered the $500 reward? ...

The Acquisitions Table: Sermons by Joseph Avery, 1773-1777

Joseph Avery, Sermons, 1773-1777 The Society already had several collections relating to Joseph Avery, a minister in Holden from 1774 until his death in 1824, before acquiring these fifty-seven sermons. In addition to our Holden, Massachusetts, records, which contain some Avery correspondence, we have a collection of records from Holden’s First Congregational Church, where Avery was ...

Halfway across the world and back again

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Kathleen Major has been volunteering in the Manuscripts Department at AAS for several years and just recently processed the diaries of nineteenth-century serviceman, adventurer, and housekeeper Frank Nash. Kathy worked at AAS from 1976 to 1984 and was Keeper of Manuscripts for a portion of that time. After leaving the Society to care for her ...

Get thee to the waters

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In the mid-nineteenth century, “taking the waters,” or hydropathy, became a fashionable so-called natural therapy. It was first promoted in Europe by Austrian Vincenz Priessnitz after he claimed to have mended his broken ribs in the spring waters of Grafenberg, Silesia.  His spa attracted crowds, including royalty. Joel Shew, a physician from New York, became ...

The Medical Education of Nathan Staples Pike

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Bloggers at Past is Present have previously written about the recent donation of Pike-Wright Family Papers in several posts. This post is continuing a look at Dr. Nathan Pike's medical career. In 1837, at the age of eighteen, Nathan Pike began teaching in the Foster, Connecticut, district schools and continued this employment for three or four years. ...

#hamildays: A Hamilton-Inspired Journey Through the Stacks

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The following is the story behind the newest feature on AAS's website, #hamildays: A Hamilton-Inspired Journey Through the Stacks. As a monographs cataloger at the American Antiquarian Society, I work primarily with books and pamphlets, often ones printed in the United States during the nineteenth century. However, the twenty-five miles of shelves at AAS hold much more ...

The Story of Emily & Benjamin

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Earlier this year the American Antiquarian Society acquired an important archive of manuscripts and drawings related to American missionary activity in Western Africa.  The collection tells the story of a couple, Emily Griswold (1838-1906) and her eventual husband, Benjamin Hartley (1838-1912). Emily was the daughter of the poet and publisher Rufus Wilmot Griswold, who edited anthologies, ...

A broadside of note

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AAS member Jane K. Dewey has volunteered in the manuscripts department for almost 30 years and processed forty large collections. Jane most recently organized, housed, and wrote about some of the manuscripts from the Pike-Wright Family papers, a recent donation from Susan Pike Corcoran. Even though the donation includes a substantial collection of ambrotypes, daguerreotypes, and photographs and a ...